• Role: Graduate, Analyst and Business Solutions Scheme
  • University: Oxford
  • Degree: Theology
  • Organisation: RBS

Helen Stevenson

Going from Bible analysis to business analysis doesn’t sound like the likeliest of moves. People assume that if you work for a bank, you’ll have a degree in Economics, Mathematics, Statistics, or Business. I studied Theology and was able to use the skills I’d learnt from my studies to apply for a position on the Royal Bank of Scotland’s Analysis and Business Solutions Summer Internship.

With my Arts and Humanities background, I wanted the opportunity to explore an industry I was unfamiliar with before settling on a more permanent contract. I liked the sound of the internship because I wanted to experience the diverse nature of the banking industry. After going through the bank’s website it was clear the scheme would give me experience in a range of business roles including Location and Property Strategy, Workplace Sustainability, Payments, IT Security, and Supply Chain Services.

What did the application process involve?

I applied in the autumn of my penultimate year at university. The process involved completing a short application form, followed by online tests, a telephone interview, and a half-day assessment centre. The assessment centre impressed me. We did a group task, a presentation, and a written test, all based around a case study. There was also a 1:1 interview. I liked this as I could demonstrate my understanding of the role and the bank. It gave me an opportunity to showcase my different skills and my personality.

Do you have any application advice?

I’d recommend getting involved in extra-curricular activities at university. My degree didn’t teach me anything specific to the industry, but because I was one of the directors of a student-run publishing company I was able to demonstrate knowledge about financial strategy, handling a team, stakeholder management, and business operations. This also made my application stand out. It showed that I was driven, could use my initiative, and was enthusiastic about learning new skills.

What did you do in your role?

I joined the team in the middle of a project to become compliant with new laws regarding customer tax reporting. From my first day in the office I was able to get involved and add real value to the business – it was a live and important project I’d be working on! In the first few weeks I was researching different countries, entering this data into a system, and analysing it.

In the second half of my internship all my essay writing at university was put to good use, as I updated manual and automatic suites of letters for the customer, to use alongside the new system that I created. I had to liaise with colleagues across the bank, understand branding, negotiate with third parties, and think creatively about solving problems. I had the opportunity to apply what I had learnt in training about the wider bank strategy, and make recommendations on how I could improve things.

How was your team?

The whole office was friendly, and my team and Line Manager sat next to me and offered support and encouragement. Things did get a little technical at times, but I never felt silly asking a question. Sometimes I’d even spot problems that had previously gone unnoticed! This is what I loved about my internship: I was really adding value to the business, and my thoughts were valued.

What was your favourite bit?

At the end of the internship we were put into teams and asked to present to a panel of managers. We presented what we had learnt about our roles, and an idea for how we would improve how the bank worked. I enjoyed getting to bring together everything I learnt from my individual experience, and in working together I realised the diversity of the bank, and the huge variety of opportunities on offer. I was successful in my internship, and at its conclusion was offered a graduate role on the completion of my degree. When I came back to the bank the following year as a graduate, it was great to see that they’d listened to what we’d recommended in our presentation, because a similar system had been implemented to the one we’d suggested. But the best bit of all about my internship? There wasn’t an equation in sight!

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